On Veterans Day, we acknowledge the men and women who have served our country with courage and integrity. When World War I formally ended in the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, this holiday was created. This is the day the Armistice with Germany went into effect and “Armistice Day” was created. However, in 1954 this day was renamed “Veterans Day” to acknowledge all that was given and sacrificed. It is on this holiday we continue to celebrate the strength, courage, resilience, and sacrifices of our service men and women.
But there are also a few misconceptions about the holiday. Have you ever wondered about the spelling? Or who exactly this day celebrates and why? To clear some of those questions up, here are some interesting things we have to share with you!
1. Veterans Day was originally called Armistice Day, commemorating the end of World War I.
World War I officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919. However, the fighting ceased over six months before when the Allies and Germany put into effect an armistice on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.
(ar·mi·stice) noun – an agreement made by opposing sides in a war to stop fighting for a certain time; a truce.
For that reason, November 11, 1918, was considered the end of “the war to end all wars” and named Armistice Day. In 1926, Congress officially recognized it as the end of the war, and in 1938, it became an official holiday.
But then World War II and the Korean War happened, so on June 1, 1954, at the urging of many veterans service organizations, Congress amended the commemoration yet again by changing the word “armistice” to “veterans” so the day would honor American veterans of all wars.
2. Veterans Day does NOT have an apostrophe.
A lot of people think it’s “Veteran’s Day” or “Veterans’ Day,” but they’re wrong. The holiday is not a day that “belongs” to any one veteran or to multiple veterans, which is what an apostrophe (in the english language) implies. It’s a day for honoring ALL veterans, so no apostrophe needed.
3.Veterans Day is NOT the same as Memorial Day.
A lot of people get this confused, and to be honest, so have we. So let’s help clear this up.
Memorial Day is a day to remember those who gave their lives for our country, particularly in battle or from wounds they suffered during battle(s). Veterans Day on the other hand honors all of those who have served the country in war or peace, whether they are living or deceased, although Veterans Day is predominantly intended to thank all living veterans for their sacrifices.
4. The day of the week was changed.
Not only was the name changed, but the day was as well!
In 1968, Congress signed the “Uniform Holiday Bill,” that stated that a few federal holidays, along with Veterans Day, would be celebrated on a Monday. Officials said they hoped it would encourage more travel, relaxation, and family time over a long(er) weekend, which could help to stimulate the economy, as well as morale. October 25, 1971 was the first Veterans Day under this new bill. This would have put Veterans Day on the fourth Monday in October but there was so much outrage, it was voted on and returned to its day in November.
5. It’s celebrated worldwide.
World War I was a worldwide, or “multinational” effort, so it makes sense that US allies also wanted to celebrate their veterans on November 11. The name of the day and the types of commemorations differ, however.
Canada and Australia both call this day “Remembrance Day.” Canada’s observance is pretty similar to the USA, except that many of its citizens wear red poppy flowers to honor their fallen. In Australia, the day is similar to our Memorial Day. Great Britain also calls it “Remembrance Day”; however, they observe it on the Sunday closest to November 11 with a variety of services and parades and two minutes of silence in London to honor those who lost their lives in war.
So no matter where on this big, beautiful planet you live, there are people who have bravely given parts or all of their lives to protect freedom and for that we say mahalo nui loa on Veterans Day and every day.